JAMAICA, Kingston (4 September 2018) - - “The Law of the Sea Convention not only guarantees the right of all States, rich and poor, to access the mineral resources of the deep seabed, but also assures equality of access to developing States, including the land-locked and geographically disadvantaged States, and small island developing States.”
Speaking at a side event on deep-sea mining hosted by Nauru President, HE Baron Divavesi Waqa at the 49th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting in Nauru on Monday 3 September, Secretary-General Michael Lodge highlighted that by creating the International Seabed Authority with equal rights of membership for all States Parties, the Authority acts as regulator and administrator of the deep seabed, on their behalf. The Convention ensures that access to the deep sea is not limited to the wealthy, technologically advanced States, but is available to the smallest and least developed, and furthermore that the benefits from these resources are shared fairly and justly.
He indicated that important declarations on issues relating to the law of the sea have been made by Pacific Island leaders at previous Forum meetings and that the forty-ninth forum took place against a similar background of other law of the sea discussions of tremendous importance to Pacific Island nations taking place in New York this week on the sustainable use and conservation of marine biodiversity, as well as the work of the ISA on developing the legal regime for deep sea mining.
"At the UN Ocean Conference held in New York in June 2017, the Authority and UN-DESA announced a voluntary commitment we are calling the ‘Abyssal Initiative’ to strengthen the capacity of P-SIDS to sustainably access and benefit from the Blue Economy. This project will be implemented in partnership with the Pacific Community."
He said the aim of the project was to strengthen the policy, legal, institutional and the research and analytical capacities of P-SIDS for implementation of the 2030 Agenda with a specific focus on SDG 14 and the Samoa Pathway.
"I look forward to increased participation by P-SIDS at meetings of the Authority and related activities, such as technical workshops, so that the region’s voice can be heard loud and clear at the international level. We are at a critical juncture right now, where we are setting rules for sustainable deep sea mining that will be in place for the next 50 or more years."
Mr. Lodge said he was pleased to have the opportunity to talk about the Law of the Sea and how the sustainable development of deep-sea mineral resources can contribute to the efforts of the Pacific Island States to achieve their Blue Economy objectives.